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The medicinal properties of mushrooms have been known for centuries, but thanks to a recent rise in natural food diets, mushrooms are now making headlines for their ability to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and even shrink cancer tumors. But because harvesting mushrooms isn’t exactly easy, people are finding more practical ways to incorporate the superfood into their diet. Mushroom powder (and vitamin supplements that contain the powder) is among the most common — and accessible — ways to add healthy fungi to your daily regimen.
Mushroom powder can be sprinkled into just about any food or drink, from teas and smoothies to pasta sauces and stews. Most are flavorless (albeit some consider the flavor to be savory), but not overpowering, making it a sacrifice-free way to enjoy your food while reaping the many benefits of mushrooms.
Types of Mushroom Powders
Before you choose a powder that’s right for you, it’s important to understand the different types of mushrooms. This requires a deep dive into the properties of each fungus. Let’s take that journey.
*Be sure to contact your doctor before using mushrooms for medicinal purposes.
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Lion's Mane benefits:
- Improves memory and prevents Alzheimer’s disease
- Improves memory
- Prevents stomach ulcers
- Reduces anxiety and depression
Lion’s Mane mushrooms (hericium erinaceus) look like they sound — with a long, flowing beard-like mane, they have been called the “king of the mushrooms.” They’re known for warding off a whole slew of health conditions like dementia, digestive ulcers, diabetes, and even heart disease. A study claimed that older adults with mild cognitive impairment saw significant mental improvements after four months of incorporating lion’s mane powder into their diet (the benefits disappeared when they stopped taking it).
Promising review: “I went to a conference on Cognitive Decline since it is in my family, and the physicians talked a lot about research showing Lion’s Mane improves immunity and brain nerve function. I have it every day in an avocado shake (1 avocado, 1 cup macadamia milk, 1/8 tsp monk fruit or stevia and 1-2 tsp Lion’s Mane – blend). Awesome brain food! I feel a sharpness in my brain when I take it. I like the taste but some may not like the earthy taste to it. If you don’t like earthy tastes, putting it in the shake helps.“
- Enhances immune system
- Improves sleep; lessens fatigue
- Helps with anxiety and depression
Reishi mushrooms (ganoderma lucidum), are known as the “mushroom of immortality” for their anti-aging effects and immunity-boosting properties. Multiple studies have shown that reishi can increase white blood cells to fight off infections and certain cancers. According to WebMD, those suffering from cardiovascular, liver, and kidney diseases, can see significant improvements in their health upon taking reishi. Some even claim it clears their skin!
Promising review: “I love this product. Besides medication, I have never taken any herbs that would be able to clear up my chin hormonal acne. I’m in my 40s, so it’s about time. I use 1/2 tsp in my morning coffee and 1/2 tsp in my evening black coffee. The powder dissolves completely and there’s no grainy taste to it. I have been using it for about 4 weeks now and will try to cut down to 1/2 tsp in the morning. Some people say that it’s expensive, but I think it’s a question of perception, if the product solves your problem, it’s priceless.”
Turkey tail benefits:
- Prevents cancer
- Supports immune system
- Infused with antioxidants
Turkey tail mushrooms (trametes versicolor) are known for their striking layered colors which resemble that of a turkey’s feathers. They are packed with immune-building antioxidants and contain a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK), which is so effective at warding off cancer cells it’s actually an approved cancer-fighting drug in Japan. (Contact your physician before altering your prescribed cancer treatment.)
Promising review: “My immune system has always sucked and doctors were trying so many different treatments while nothing was working. Turkey tail was the first thing to work for a while. My immune system improved so much and I wasn’t getting sick as often. Taking Turkey tail once per day is all it takes.”
Chaga mushroom benefits:
- Reduces inflammation
- Contains anti-aging properties
- Lowers cholesterol
Chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) grow primarily on birch trees and are known for being high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants. They are a known treatment for chronic inflammation, and promote the formation of proteins called cytokines that help regulate the immune system. Studies have shown that chaga stimulates white blood cell production and can even shrink cancer cells.
Promising review: “I have an autoimmune disease and developed an allergy to coffee, so I bought this to give it a try. I put a teaspoon of it in hot water, added some non dairy milk, about a tbsp of honey and a dash of vanilla extract. It’s good stuff! I can even hide my daily intake of flax seed oil in it and not even taste it. Saves me from having to make a smoothie in the mornings.”
Cordyceps mushroom benefits:
- Boosts energy
- Aids in muscle recovery
- Enhances circulation
Cordyceps mushrooms (Cordyceps militaris) have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat various ailments. They are a great energy booster that can help your body utilize oxygen more efficiently and increase blood flow, thus speeding recovery of muscles. Studies have shown Cordyceps enhances exercise capacity and increases respiratory function in older adults, so if you’re looking for something to get you moving, this is your mushroom.
Promising review: “I’ve been taking this everyday for almost a year plus and have noticed a difference in my immune system. I work in an office where everyone is constantly sick, I have colds that last 1/2 as long as theres or I don’t get sick at all. I use this and the OM immune mushroom powder together.”